Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Walking 10 Miles in a Virtual World

When you spend as much time in the mobile online world as I do, rarely does something surprise you.  Quickly jaded against the newest fad, I tend to cast a skeptical eye especially when it comes to mobile gaming.  For a game to draw me away from my preconceived notions as to what a mobile game is and what it could aspire to be, we would have to be talking about something significant.  Then I was introduced to Ingress.

I'll leave it to you to research exactly what Ingress and how it is played (but just remember this...Viva la Resistance!)  What I want to address is the merging between the virtual game and the real world.  In this game which is so geographically connected to the real world, you might expect those connections to be a novelty rather than a linchpin.  You would be wrong.  The combination of geographic locations combined with the requirement of geographic proximity to those locations compels, no requires, a player to leave the confines of their comfy abode and move about in the real world.  Interaction with other players face to face is unavoidable and highly desirable, with strategies and actions increasing in effectiveness when working in collaboration.

My participation in the Philadelphia Anomaly event (ask a player and they'll explain what that is) introduced me to people I have never met before and likely would never have cross paths with.  It took me to parts of Philadelphia that I only knew from documentaries and history books even having grown up near the city.  It instilled a sense of teamwork for common goals, excitement for success, and determination in the face of defeats.  A game that challenged me physically, intellectually, and socially; all outside the confines of my comfort zone.

Ingress is a game that defines the merger between the real and the virtual gaming experience to the favor of the real.  For once, we have something that tries to put as much reality into our virtual as  virtual into our reality rather than skewing towards one or the other.  In the world of social media, any game, tool, or event that helps dispel the common wisdom that social media is isolating and instead brings people together both in virtual and real ways is something worth being a part of; it is the future but it's time is now.

A note to all players...Resistance and Enlightened alike...when you look at the game, the relationships, and the world of interaction you are creating realize this:  the Shapers...are you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Three Tips for Coffee and Productivity

While guest hosting the Twitter #prodchat on Coffee and Productivity, I was reminded of a few important points when it comes to tying productivity improvements to an external stimulus such as coffee:

  1. All things in moderation.  As we are likely all aware, excessive caffeine can have significant side effects.  What we sometimes fail to consider is those effects can vary not only by the individual, but for the individual.  No matter how critical the pending deadline, there is no amount of coffee that will complete the task for you.
  2. Coffee is often more process than product.  For many, the process of brewing their own coffee or stopping by the local coffee shop is the change of venue they need to reset their thinking and get out of a non-productive rut.  Think carefully about your process if you’re a coffee (or tea / energy drink) consumer.  Is the process the same every time?  Could it be the process that is making you productive and not the drink?
  3. Variety is the spice of life.  While a consistent process may be comforting, mixing things up can grant you the creative spark for which you are searching.  Try a different beverage, a different flavor, a different shop, and make note of the results.  You might just surprise yourself.

Coffee is something that stirs as many passionate responses as it does dispassionate ones.  We all have our own views and preferences; making the most popular drug of choice so socially acceptable and so much our own.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Buffer Tone Guide

Recommended ways to write more engaging communications online. This is a great reference from the teams at Buffer and MailChimp.
  • Many customer interactions will include instructions. As a general guideline, invite them to take these steps. Try not to tell them. And make it easy for them to say no. This doesn't have to end in a question mark, as long as it's an invitation instead of a command.
  • We always try to take blame for any confusion or problem. In general, if you can avoid "you" or "your" when diagnosing the problem, stick with that. This applies also for third party troubles. When in a fault-pinch, eliminate pronouns entirely with passive voice. And don't hesitate to use the word "sorry."
  • Feel free to use the word Sorry, and address the end result for the customer, not the end result for us, if possible.
  • Our customers are some of the kindest around, and they're totally cool. Address them like pals who you respect. (As you would speak to a Buffer team mate.) Also, if you're expressing an emotion in a 1:1 communication, use "I" instead of "we." When in doubt, speak for yourself and not on behalf of the whole company, as it is more honest.
  • Warm, friendly, and approachable. Use names whenever possible. Try to invite a reply without demanding one.
  • I have found that my body language affects my writing. In preparation for an email that's going to need great empathy, I sometimes try to sit forward, like I'm leaning into the conversation, not back, as if I'm feeling defensive. It may work for you to hold your hands facing up and your shoulders relaxed as you read the customer email, not with your arms crossed.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Quoted in Fast Company

There are times interviews are done with mixed emotions.  While it was exciting to be interviewed and quoted in Fast Company, I only wish it could have been about something aside from the demise of Springpad.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tips on choosing YOUR productivity solution

How do you choose a productivity solution for your needs?  What is the process of deciding what will work best for you, be the best investment of your time and effort, and provide the long term support you need?  There are hundreds of articles on the web suggesting what you should be using based on the current wisdom.  

Let's talk about what you're trying to accomplish.  There are a plethora of tools out there (as demonstrated by the Springpad G+ community I assure you) but the one(s) that are right for you will come down to a couple of decisions:

1.  How do you want to put content in?  You mentioned you are a "clipper" who is primarily a mobile user so that should be the first evaluation criteria you apply.  Without content capture in a consistent, efficient manner any solution can fail.

2.  How do you want the content back?  Do you like to read full articles later?  Get taken to your web browser? Read things in an app?  Look at what you're doing now and how you're happiest accessing what you've captured.

3.  Where do you want to access the content?  Are you a person who needs your information on the go or is it for later use?  Are you a "sit down and organize" or a "let me do this while I'm waiting in line" kind of person.  These kinds of self-aware observations can make or break your choice of tool.


1. Start slow.  Ease into your tool choices.  Try them for a few days.  Don't be afraid of test drives.  These are tools...not life choices.

2. Adapt.  Nothing says a tool has to be used as it was designed.  One of the strengths of Springpad was its ability to be adapted to various needs and content.  Do the same to make things fit you.

3.  Ask.  Online communities are the place to get people to share ideas and thoughts about how to deal with your challenges.  There is an amazing power to this kind of community.  Not to be self promoting...but it's a pump of ideas primed and ready to flow.  :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Find Your Productivity Solution

The Springpad Springboard community on Google+ has been the home for Springpad users for more than a year.  With the pending shutdown of the business (but not the community) we've pulled together to help people find alternatives for their own trusted productivity / curation solutions.  To make things easier, below are the important links to articles and assets to help in the search and success:

Keep checking back here as we add new posts, contact information, and more about the myriad of productivity solutions out there and how to get the most for your needs.

In addition you can use a copy of the list at to rate your preference of productivity tools and see how others have rated them as well:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The End of Springpad

There is a lot of rumor circulating about the end of Springpad as a service and a company.   While there are a number of things I'm aware of that I can't and won't comment on (business topics that really aren't my area) being one of the largest users of Springpad there are a number of points I can touch on.

Any service can go away at any time.   We've seen this with Google and dozens of other companies in the Internet space.   As users we struggle and complain, but so often forget these companies are made up of people who have dedicated countless hours to build a service they believed could not only be a success but also help and contribute to others.   To watch something like that unravel from the inside is incredibly painful and frustrating for those in the business.  

Over a month ago Springpad reached out to me as the founder of the Google+ user community and host of the Springpad Show to let me know things were in the works for a major change.   They wanted a user engaged in the process to make sure the concerns of their community, which they have spent years cultivating, were addressed in the best way possible.   Working hand in hand with them we've been able to test options and come up with strategies to help you move forward with your information.

More real information, not speculation, will be coming shortly.  I know they are doing their best in what is the worst possible time for a business.  If we work together with patience and cooperation we'll all be able to move forward.